Monday, February 15, 2010

The Power of Dog

Guest blogger, Paul Westerfield, shares a recent experience involving his therapy dog, Nana the Newfoundland.

On a recent visit to the Pediatric ICU at a local hospital, Nana proved to me once again the value of therapy dogs. 

Upon arrival we visited with a few young patients while always hearing a young child’s cry in the background. As we progressed down the hall, we finally reached the room of an 8-month-old, sitting on his distraught mother's lap. Entering the room Nana sat for a few moments then moved directly up to the crying child. Nana was met by silence. A few seconds later the baby erupted in a big smile. Both the nursing staff and the mother explained that the child had been crying for at least three hours nonstop. The baby also had been trying to pull out his IV, which ceased upon Nana’s arrival.

We visited for half an hour or more, during which time the baby was quiet and playfully grabbing hold of Nana’s ears. Nana gave the baby a few Newf kisses and licked the remaining tears away. At the end of the visit, the child was yawning and about to fall asleep. Nana was no further than 10 feet from the room when we heard the baby crying again. We returned to the room and again the baby stopped crying immediately. I had Nana rest her head on the mothers lap so she and the baby were cheek to cheek. The baby fell asleep within a couple minutes and Nana was able to quietly slip out of the room.

We were stopped by a Pediatrician before we could leave the ICU. He inquired as to Nana’s breed, training and how often we visited. He felt that the magic she worked was extremely beneficial to all involved, especially the staff and the mother. He thanked us, as did all the medical personnel on the unit. 

Nana’s behavior earned her a cheeseburger reward that day. Nana acted well … just like a Nana.

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